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Carolyn Zaikowski

Carolyn Zaikowski is the author of the novel A Child Is Being Killed (Aqueous Books, 2013). Her fiction and poetry, as well as her critical work on veganism, feminism, trauma, and language, have been published widely.


"[T]he book’s best success is the unflinching way it steers us away from melodrama and refuses the assurances of false hope."

– Gavin Pate

"[L]ove has a place in the world of the book, as does tenderness. And–though it may only be a glimmer or mirage–the possibility of liberation is not entirely foreclosed."

– Ben Segal



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A Child Is Being Killed

Book as site for inevitable-resound


Book as catapult, as dark cliffs among which an impossible voice is being initialized, is becoming confident enough to sound.

Book as reverb in a yearn-school.

Book as site for inevitable-resound.

From a voice taken a voice is invented: Shrap. Shrap sharpens. Shrap is to shrapnel. Shrap is a profound sear along a system of seams (“Shrap imagines [] sewing her own tongue back in place while chewing the doors off the closets”).

Zaikowski’s A Child is Being Killed is a soaked-yarn-endeavor whereby a young person is sounding themselves into existence even amidst imposed violences and horrid turmoil (“I am your little girl, the understudy for the daughter you couldn’t fuck in real life”/ “The island in the middle of the tsunami is mine and it is untouched. This is the line I kept writing in my head when you were all fucking me”/”All the men with their one woman”). Shrap is a land of wounds in “time’s womb” (“I landed in a pile of myself underneath the window”).

A many-faceted dysphoria (“I refused to feel the pain”/ “There are no available selves”).

A constant ambulation.

Book as holder of a chewy story.

Chewy story chewed as a chew toy: my mouth, my own voice, are getting stronger the longer I gnaw.

In Zaikowski’s remarkable and poignant narrative, captors (Father, Corey, other men who rape or pay for use of Shrap) though inflictors, are also, at times the only other human contact (there are other contacts: rodents, ghosts, voices, images, memories) (“The things that are wrong are human things, not animal things”).

Book as page-place where the authentic gender is lived (“My penis has a clitoris”/ “My penis is nothing but a long clitoris that has fallen out of my body”/ “She wonders whether or not she is actually a king [] she has a penis and a vagina. She has other genitals you can’t conceive of. That’s why she’s so powerful”).

Shrap comes in contact with the maternal as lover and stand-in mother. Consuelo: consolation and courtship, camaraderie and confidante (“Consuelo: I love you. I love you. She replie[s], yes, I love you too, Shrap”).

Brutalization and non-consent, through reams of men, the girl in the white dress wishes for the shore on which she can be brazen on her own terms. She sounds the wish and is never seen. Through Shrap’s voice, through Consuelo, through the swells of mother visiting, a girl in a white dress is finally being seen. It is the evening after Corey’s murder. Her dress is blushing as the horizon’s red deepens, nearing some mid-way point before it goes below the land which stands in front of it. (“When I really think about it, all the dirt and earth, where it all starts and ends and goes around in circles and explodes—I want to make total love to it, I have made total love to it”).

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